Pratical Boat Owner: Stormy winter weather and innovative technology will be embraced by the 2015 London Boat Show, as part of an overhaul of the event. ‘We want people to be saying “You’ve got to go in there, it’s mad.”‘
More than 100 exhibitors packed into a conference room at the Southampton Boat Show to hear about the plans for Britain’s next big boat show. It was revealed that the National Boat Shows board had called upon the help of students from Central Saint Martin’s College, University of the Arts London, to revamp and revive the flagging boat show.
And NBS will be ‘quadrupling’ the investment of features it had last year. Organisers said while the London Boat Show continues to be profitable and attract 90,000 to 100,000 people, despite footfall dropping year on year, it needed a ‘kick start’ to change public perception.
The profit of the show helps to subsidize subscription to the British Marine Federation (BMF), the trade association for the leisure, superyacht and small commercial marine industry.Peter Gordon, chairman of National Boat Shows, a subsidiary of the BMF, said: “The perception of the show needed to change.‘We need to give the London Boat Show an identity and emotionally energise the event.'”. He added: “It needs to be more of a day out. It had stopped being a day out.”
Bringing the outdoors indoors
Mr Gordon said unlike the PSP Southampton Boat Show, the London Boat Show did not have the attraction of being outdoors with a large marina area to delight the senses, with fresh air smells, flapping halyard noises and changing temperatures.
This year’s Southampton Boat Show has also been revamped and made more family friendly and festival-like this year, with great success. St Martin’s MA Narrative Enviroments course students looked at the London Boat Show with a fresh eye.
They found that the event had been marketed quite literally, visitors knew exactly what to expect and after the initial arrival, became bored. The students researched the target audience and came up with Pioneers, Adventurers and Innovators to sum up all those who take to the sea.
A common thread was how weather affects all seafarers and is a very emotionally charged topic, which excites all different sorts of senses. Mr Gordon said any indoor event struggles without this natural atmosphere. But that thanks to the art students’ advice, this year’s London Boat Show will have specific enticing areas within the large amount of exhibition space at the 100-acre ExCeL centre.
Instead of multiple entrances to the exhibition, there will be one main show entrance in the middle of the halls, with audio, large screen visuals and temperature changes. Mr Gordon said: ‘We want people to be saying “You’ve got to go in there, it’s mad.”‘
Super hydrophobic coating, which is already being used successfully in the car industry, virtual reality navigation, environmentally-friendly innovations from Ben Ainslie Racing team, the new hydrofoil technology of the Whisper craft from the Southampton Solent University – showcased at this week’s boat show – will all form part of the innovative technology theme.
Exhibitors are being encouraged to come up with new ideas to show off innovations on their stands, be it marine products, waterproof clothing, gadgets or boats and organisers have pledged to help make these ideas a reality.
Due to popular demand the Public Preview Day will be returning on Friday 9 January. The 10-day show will run from 10am to 6pm daily, from 9-18 January, with late night opening on the Thursday until 8pm.£10 tickets are being offered at the Southampton Boat Show, exhibitors are encouraged to spread the word and include the event logo on their websites. Visitors are invited to take part in a quiz to see if they are Pioneers, Adventurers and Innovators. Mr Gordon said: ‘70% of space is already contracted for the London Boat Show, we’re ahead of last year.’ Now the challenge is to entice visitors back.